My father still owns the house, but my brother and live there. I, at least, until I can find a job in the valley and move to 1006
. My father always kept the lawn, the "compost pile", and the garden all very carefully segregated. Now it's my job, and it's a big one! I'm planning to integrate the three areas somewhat so as to make it more manageable to the point where it not only looks decent but is easily cared for by one single, very lazy stoner who could give two shits about (yard) work.
Even by myself, sober and properly motivated, I wasn't able to keep up with the raking last year, and got caught with leaves on the yard when the first snow fell. That's when I decided that I need to conceive of an alternative to the classic lawn, with its broad expanses of high-maintenance, otherwise useless grass. This season, since the lawnmowers at Medford have been out of commission, and Gilbertson up the street has been mowing our lawn with a riding mower I haven't been too motivated about fixing them. But that still leaves corners and grades left unmowed. My low-tech response has been to start collecting corrugated cardboard boxes from work (and I can get a lot of them, in increments if I'm willing to wait) that I've started slowly mulching the lawn grass to death with. That option leaves an eyesore too, but I can live with it temporarily. It's all part of a several year project to foster a low-mow to no-mow lawn, allotment-style garden around Medford.
I originally started by overlapping the edges and tacking them down with nails (which didn't work), and then old chop sticks (which didn't work for long) and finally decided just to simply throw some logs on top to weigh them down. Rain helps, too but is usually accompanied by wind - no good. By the time the leaves start falling in October Scotty will come looking for the logs I've borrowed. Which is perfect timing because by then the leaves should be falling and I'll simply rake them right over the top of the cardboard "mulch" instead of having to schlep them all to the single, centralized backyard compost heap (the lawn's a ½ acre with a dozen or so very big trees, and a hell of a lot of work for one guy and a rake!)
I'd initially conceived of pulling the cardboard back up after a couple months and planting my perennials there but the problem of keeping the cardboard down in the mean time has forced the idea to evolve to the point where the cardboard and the lawn clippings, dead leaves, and anything I weed become a permanent and integral part of the landscape. I don't believe the cardboard by itself is a very effective mulch, just like I learned the hard way the dead leaves, etc. raked off the lawn aren't a very effective mulch by itself. But together the two should work as a impervious barrier to any unwanted vegetation - including lawn grass! This way when I'm ready to plant, whether later this autumn or next spring, I simply dig a hole straight through the mulch and decomposing cardboard. There was a question raised about the safety of the formadehyde that's present in traces in corrugated, but guess what? Plants readily break that down and it becomes nitrogen in the soil! The plants that are planned for this area are such that can basically be ignored or admired all year long for their sagey goodness, harvested, or simply cut back in the fall and then more leaves from the lawn are raked over the top. The lawn becomes the garden becomes the compost heap becoms the garden.
So, the idea as it stands is to border the yard along the little slope with (3) artemisia absinthium
, (2) hyssop officinalis
, and a border of agastache foeniculum
(so far I've only 3). In addition I'd like to check into getting a load of rip-rap dumped here to include some rock features. Voila! The Absintheur's Garden.
Later on in the fall, when I've photo-documentation and after I get a handle on how well this scheme works I'll hatch my plan to further reduce mowing, reduce leaf raking, and have an organic vegetable garden in raised beds made using cardboard boxes.